Border Collie Buyer’s Guide
Border Collie Rescue
Before you consider bringing a Border Collie into your home, you should read this brochure and, if at all possible, meet and talk with people who currently own Border Collies and are familiar with their uniqueness. You should be as well informed about the breed as possible. If you decide to get a puppy, you will need to find a reputable breeder. While it is important that the dog is purebred, you should remember that there are no guarantees just because a dog is registered with any particular organization or association. Registries only provide documentation based on what the breeder tells them. As the consumer, you must be careful. Read the do’s and don’ts below and take time to find a breeder who you feel answers all you questions honestly. Border Collies are unquestionably highly intelligent and active dogs. While the level of intensity varies, those unaccustomed to the breed may consider them too energetic for their lifestyle.
Border Collies are the result of hundreds of years of breeding dogs that herd sheep. They love to work and become very bored with inactivity. They will focus on motion and try to stop moving objects (including people and animals) by getting in front of them. They will frequently invent their own games, some of which may be highly annoying for families that are not accustomed to Border Collies. Those wonderful dogs you may have seen working sheep or performing in the movies are the result of many years of training and you should expect and untrained puppy to be just that – untrained!
IS A BORDER COLLIE FOR YOU? If you live in an apartment, town house, have very small children, have a busy life, have an unfenced yard, are impatient with compulsive behaviours, or want a Border Collie only because you saw one in the movies, or want an attack dog, then please consider another breed.
Many unhappy situations have resulted when unaware owners purchased a Border Collie and left it to its own devices while at work. Human companionship is very important to the Border Collie. They are extremely sound and body sensitive, and need to be treated gently to build up trust and confidence.
Border Collies need a job. The type of job can be as simple as chasing a tennis ball or as sophisticated as herding, agility or obedience training. You should be able to spend some time each day working your dog. Training a Border Collie to be a good citizen in your home is a must. Your kindness will be rewarded with undying loyalty.
Border Collies are an intensely active breed especially when young. They need space to run and explore. Their strong herding instinct leads them to chase cars, bicycles, and children. It is not unusual for them to inadvertently knock young children over or cause a child riding a bicycle to crash. Out of frustration, Border Collies may even nip running children. While you might not mind, you are liable if your neighbour does. As you might imagine, a fenced yard is necessity to prevent dogs from getting into other mischief or from running into roadways and possibly being killed. Border Collies won’t usually exercise on their own. Most require their human counterparts to participate in their exercise programs. Merely putting a Border Collie into a fence area as a form of exercise will NOT be enough for them. These dogs need to be physically and mentally challenged and if you cannot provide that for them, they will do it themselves – at the expense of your lawn, furniture, wall or whatever looks tempting to dig or chew on! They are extremely quick, highly energetic, busy dogs and they must have plenty of exercise. Border Collies may not be particularly good around other dogs. Their wish to herd other dogs may not be appreciated.
What kind of escape artists are they? Border Collies are extremely agile dogs and can easily jump or climb a 6 – Foot fence it they decide there is something more interesting on the other side. They are also good diggers and chewers, so if they can’t jump a fence they might try to dig under it or chew through it if they want to get out. And don’t forget their intelligence, some Border Collies are good at opening doors and latches.
IF YOU STILL WANT A BORDER COLLIE, PLEASE CONSIDER A RESCUE DOG: More often than ever before, Border Collies are simply abandoned, taken to local shelters or put up for adoption. Some may have behavioural problems that can be overcome, but most are perfectly wonderful dogs. Often adopting an older dog is preferable since you have a better idea of what the mature dog will look like and have a clearer idea of what it’s temperament might be. Past experience has shown that rescued Border Collies bond closely with their adoptive families. These dogs seem to understand when they have been placed into a permanent new home.
LOOKING FOR A PUPPY: If you decide that you really would prefer a puppy, you will need some information to help you make a wise decision.
1. Is the puppy from healthy sound parents? Border Collies are not immune to genetic problems that plague all dogs. Hip Dysplacia (HD) and genetic eye diseases are more common than you might imagine. At present, it is recommended that breeding stock be evaluated for these problems prior to their being bred. Hips should be examined radiographically and the radiographs evaluated by a reputable veterinarian or by the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria. Hips are graded on a scale of zero to four, four being the worst and a score of zero being clear. Insist on seeing the certificates. Dogs do not have to be obviously lame to have this condition and pass it on to their offspring. Certificates are only issued for dogs after the age of 2 years so younger dogs will not have a certificate.
Border Collies can suffer from progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and collie eye anomaly (CEA) in addition to other eye diseases. All can appear at any time. Since CEA may appear initially in young puppies, it is a good idea to have the entire litter examined between the age of 6-10 weeks, as that is the only time they can be certified free. Dogs that are used for breeding should be examined yearly by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist. There is a growing problem with epilepsy and other seizure disorders in Border Collies. Unfortunately, origins of the diseases are not always clear and you will have to rely on the honesty of the breeder as to whether an inheritable problem exists in their line. Ask about allergies, problems with shoulders or elbows, heart problems, digestive problems, and osteochondritis desicans (OCD), a disease that causes lameness in the joints of young dogs. You would also be wise to ask about sibling of the sire and dam and about any puppies they might have produced. The more dogs in a pedigree that are known to be free of problems increases the chances that your puppy will be healthy. By all means you should make an attempt to see the sire and dam. If you have questions contact your local veterinarian for more information.
2. Have the puppies been dewormed and vaccinated? Puppies, which have distended round bellies, may have internal parasites. Breeders should check their puppies and treat them if necessary. Most veterinarians recommend that puppies be vaccinated to prevent distemper and parvo. Insist on a vaccination certificate.
3. Does the puppy appear healthy? You should look for an active puppy. Sometimes after they have just eaten they may be sleepy, but try to arrange a time to visit when they will be awake and playful. At 6-8 weeks, the puppy should move easily on strong legs. Avoid puppies that have debris in their eyes or have eyes with any discharge. You should also avoid puppies that have dirty ears(Inside) or ears that smell badly. Check the insides of their lips expecting to see a bright pink colour. Paleness may indicate parasites. Evidence of diarrhea in the kennel area may indicate unhealthy puppies While each of these may be symptoms of treatable illnesses, they are also symptoms of a breeder who is not responsible.
4. Does the puppy have a sound temperament? You should look for puppies that are well adjusted and outgoing. Look for wagging tails and a playful attitude. Stay away from puppies that are shy towards humans, fearful of reasonable noises, or aggressively growl and snarl at humans. The parents’ temperament is usually a good indicator of what the puppy’s temperament will be.
5. Ownership: Remember that the money you invest in a healthy puppy is an investment in 12 -15 or more years of a wonderful relationship with your canine companion. You are paying for the thought, time, expenses, and expertise of a reputable breeder. Puppies are usually ready to leave the breeder at about 7-8 weeks. They should have been completely weaned by then and eating solid food. You should have chosen a place in your home to keep the puppy and made plans to acclimatise the new puppy to his strange new surroundings. Ask the breeder for recommendations on feeding. Although opinions vary, a veterinarian recommended, well-balanced puppy food is adequate. Too much calcium causes too much bone building and disrupts cartilage maturation, and possibly contributes to development of structural problems. The breeder should provide you with a vaccination history. Contact your veterinarian, and make an appointment to have the new puppy examined and arrange a continuation of his vaccination schedule. Some breeders will also provide you with written guarantees promising to either take the puppy back or refund part or all of the purchase price should the puppy develop specified health problems (HD for example).
Now that you have this “action bundle” where do you go for help and training? You can obtain information from Border Collie Rescue regarding obedience training schools, herding clubs, and sheepdog trials, In addition your veterinarian may have names of folks who offer help with training.
DO’S: 1. Learn all that you can about Border Collies before you make a decision that should be for the dog’s lifetime. 2. Consider adopting a homeless Border Collie. 3. Carefully investigate the breeder. Ask for references. A responsible breeder will make you prove you are qualified to own one of their puppies. 4. Talk to other Border Collie owners and meet their dogs.
DON’TS: 1. Never buy a puppy on a whim or buy a puppy as a surprise gift for someone else. 2. Never buy a puppy form a pet store. Reputable breeders would never sell their puppies to a pet store. More than likely puppies in the pet store window are from puppy mill operators and are likely to be poorly bred and unhealthy. 3. Never take a puppy because it is available. You may find that you will have to wait 6 months or more until the right puppy is born. 4. Never take a puppy unless you are committed to spending time training it.
SUMMARY: The people who make the most satisfied border Collie owners are people who enjoy spending a lot of time with their dogs and are willing and able to make the commitment to exercise and train in some way every day: who are very active, who like to hike, jog, and or take long walks with their dogs; who don’t mind living with a dog that never really settles down, even in the house, even after a lot of exercise, even when it’s owner is tired from a long day at work; and most importantly, who have a real job for the dogs to do, whether it’s one of the dog sports that these dogs excel at, or of course, herding a flock of sheep.